Remote meeting etiquette

Wednesday 08/19/2020

Ah, the joys of remote meetings. While working from home has its share of benefits, video and conference calls are not always one of them. Between questionable internet connections and distracted attendees, remote meetings can drain more than just your battery.  As we gear up for the fall semester, we put together this quick reminder of remote meeting etiquette tips for you.

Check availability
First things first. Before you make a Teams call or send a Zoom invite, make sure the person is free. In Outlook and Teams, you can see if someone is busy if a red dot appears by their profile picture. If the dot is green, indicating they are available, still be courteous and ask when a good time is to connect. Please update your status accordingly if you are busy or cannot be disturbed.

Use the right tool
Which tool should you use while working remotely? Use email for conversations or questions that aren’t pressing, things that don’t need an answer right now, but maybe sometime today. Microsoft Teams is a fantastic tool for more immediate conversations within your team—those quick questions for which you would normally pop into someone’s office. Zoom is ideal for anything that would be an in-person meeting if we were all back in the office or for remote social events like team lunches.

Be on time
Time is a precious commodity. Be respectful of others and join meetings on time, especially if you are the host. Keeping others waiting is inconsiderate. Plus, being early to meetings gives you a few minutes to catch up with coworkers and talk about the awesome deal you just scored on your latest shipment of hand sanitizer.

Turn on your camera
Yes, pajamas are awesome. But so is seeing others’ faces. Video calls are a great way to still connect remotely, and gestures and facial expressions go a long way in providing context to a conversation. Pull on a nice shirt, smile and join the group.

Pick a good location
Avoid distracting backgrounds by attending video meetings in a clean, well-lit, quiet location. Or try using one of Zoom’s virtual backgrounds.

Follow an agenda
Go into the meeting with a plan. Include a list of the main topics of discussion in the meeting invite. And then stick to them to keep the meeting on track.

Focus on the meeting
Although it’s tempting, refrain from multitasking during meetings. We’re all busy. But you wouldn’t be typing and sending emails if someone was having a conversation with you in person. So don’t do it in meetings. Be courteous to the meeting organizer and other attendees and give the meeting your full attention.

Be mindful of time
Target 45 minutes for meeting length, respecting participants’ availability and providing for time between meetings. Even when remote, jumping from back-to-back virtual meetings still takes time … and can be exhausting. If a meeting looks like it is going to run over, give everyone a time check and see if anyone has to drop off.

Leave with action items
Document action items discussed during the meeting along with correlating staff assignments and due dates and distribute the list to all participants after the meeting.

Avoid unnecessary meetings
Even in the virtual world, meeting fatigue is real. It is important to learn how to spot unnecessary meetings. Before you add another Zoom meeting on the calendar, ask yourself if the matter can be resolved via email or a quick phone conversation.

There are also some great videos about remote meetings on LinkedIn Learning. Take 3-4 minutes to watch one and up your virtual meeting game.